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Women Are at Greater Risk Than Men for Eye Disease PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 23 April 2015

Australian women, especially after age 40, need to be vigilant on eye disease, advises the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO). Research figures suggest women are at greater risk than men for macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

There are an estimated 143,000 Australian females who suffer from glaucoma, compared to 77,000 males, with the higher prevalence in females driven by age. Left untreated, glaucoma may eventually result in blindness.

Women live longer than men and due to hormonal and lifestyle factors, are at risk for developing age-related eye conditions. Menopause can bring about dry eye syndrome, requiring artificial tears or gel to prevent damage. The use of drugs or supplements to counteract menopause can inflame the middle and outer wall of the eye.

Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy may increase patients' risk of blood clots and strokes, which can be associated with vision problems and cataracts. Pregnant women often suffer from migraines, and pregnancy can result in high blood pressure leading to blurry vision or at worst, retinal detachment.

Sydney ophthalmologist Dr Diana Semmonds identifies other areas to maintain vigilance. "Women are more likely to experience autoimmune diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren's syndrome, which destroys the glands in the eye and mouth that produce moisture. These diseases can cause eye complications".

Women are five to six times more likely than men to get Grave's eye disease which occurs as a result of an overactive thyroid and causes the eyes to bulge and eye muscles to inflame.

Dr Semmonds advises women to seek the advice of their GP if they experience any eye symptoms that are abnormal, who can then refer them to an ophthalmologist. "Often an increase in floaters or flashers, or the gradual or sudden blurring of vision, can be a sign of a potentially serious eye condition. Long-term damage can occur if treatment is not sought quickly".

"Glaucoma is one disease which is often discovered too late, because there are no obvious symptoms. All women over the age of 40 should have an eye examination by an ophthalmologist, who will then advise on the regularity of checks needed based on their current eye health," recommends Dr Semmonds. "Any family history of eye disease should always be brought up with your doctor".

Two-thirds of the world's blind people are females. In developing communities, infectious eye diseases such as trachoma can hit women hard, as they are often carried by young children who infect their mother, sisters, aunts and other female carers.

The safe use of cosmetics, hair dyes and makeup is also advised to protect eye health.

 
Luxottica Opens New Luxe Boutique in Melbourne PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 16 April 2015

OPSM 233 Collins St MelbourneLuxottica's retail chain OPSM has introduced a new luxury store situated in the heart of Melbourne's premium fashion precinct – OPSM on Collins. The boutique houses an array of frames from a number of coveted brands, including some of Australia's most expensive optical frames and sunglasses.

Located at 233 Collins Street, OPSM on Collins is a premium eyewear destination for the fashion-focused, whilst providing high quality eyewear and eyecare services. The store features a tightly curated range of luxury and fashion eyewear, with 60% of the store's range being luxury frames and sunglasses from the likes of Bvlgari, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Michael Kors, Miu Miu, Oliver Peoples, Prada and Versace. OPSM on Collins will stock the Bvlgari Le Gemme optical frames priced at $7500 – the most expensive pair of optical frames currently available in Australia. Also available for purchase is one of the most expensive pair of sunglasses in Australia, the Dolce & Gabbana Mosaico valued at $7800.

OPSM Senior Buyer, Rebecca Demetriou scours the world securing the latest and greatest in fashion-forward sunglass and optical styles. She says the focus when building the offering at OPSM on Collins was to showcase the best-of-the-best and highlight the delicate craftsmanship and materials used to create the luxury pieces on range.

OPSM on Collins has adopted the new OPSM store design and will be the second store with this look and feel after the opening of Macquarie Centre in September 2014. Eyewear on Collins is open now at 233 Collins Street, Melbourne

 
Applications Open for Macular Degeneration Research Grants PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 09 April 2015

Macular Disease Foundation Australia is calling for applications from Australian researchers to conduct research into macular degeneration, Australia's leading cause of blindness and severe vision loss. Total grant funding of $1.3 million is available across multiple grants to conduct research aimed at reducing the incidence and impact of this chronic disease.

"Research is a journey of discovery, with the ultimate destination being a place where we can save sight. Along the way we will learn a great deal that can yield major benefit,” said Julie Heraghty Chief Executive Officer Macular Disease Foundation Australia.

Since the inception of the Research Grant Program in 2011, Macular Disease Foundation Australia has awarded over $1.5 million to eminent Australian researchers. In this round, the Foundation will offer $1.3 million.

"Included in this round, we are pleased to announce the inaugural Blackmores Macular Disease Foundation Australia Research Grant of up to $600,000 over 3 years which will focus on the nutrition and/or lifestyle aspects of macular degeneration," said Ms Heraghty.

Blackmores Managing Director Australia and New Zealand David Fenlon said, "We have had a long standing relationship with the Foundation and we welcome the opportunity to fund research into the prevention of macular degeneration through the important areas of nutrition and lifestyle."

"Over 1.15 million Australians show some evidence of macular degenerationi," said Ms Heraghty. "Given that this number will rise to 1.7 million by 2030 in the absence of treatment and prevention measures, it is vitally important that we continue to invest in research to save the sight of older Australians and maximise the independence and quality of life of those living with the disease. We thank our donors to the Foundation’s Research Grants Program and Blackmores for supporting the Foundation's commitment to research into macular degeneration."

Applications for the third round of grants are now open. Applications close 1 June 2015. The successful applicants will be announced on World Sight Day, 8 October 2015.

For more information on applying for grants goto: http://www.mdfoundation.com.au/research/grants.aspx

 
Macular Disease Foundation Australia's Research Grants Program Open For Applications PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 27 March 2015

Macular Disease Foundation Australia’s Research Grants Program is due to open its third round of applications

Grants are open to researchers based in eligible Australian institutions to pursue research into medical, social, low vision, and nutritional research of macular degeneration.

The grants are awarded following rigorous evaluation, based largely on the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) process, along with international peer review, to ensure that the successful applicants meet the highest standards.

Macular Disease Foundation Australia Research Grants Program was launched in 2011 to fulfil the Foundation’s objective to support research to reduce the incidence and impact of macular degeneration, and ultimately to find a cure. Since the program launch, over $1.5 million has been committed to world leading Australian researchers.

Researchers wishing to apply are asked to check the website www.mdfoundation.com.au. For further information call 1800 111 709.

 
Guidelines Developed to Protect Local Eye Banks PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Thousands of people are needlessly blind because they live in a country where they have no access to donated corneal tissue. Every day, surgeons in these communities face the challenge of securing the corneas needed to save sight from eye banks elsewhere – often in places like Australia or New Zealand.

To help ensure that eye banks in Australia and New Zealand are better prepared to answer such calls for help, a few weeks ago the Eye Bank Association of Australia and New Zealand (EBAANZ) ratified its first-ever Bioethical Framework at its annual meeting in Perth.

"In recent years eye banks in Australia and New Zealand have received increasing approaches from colleagues in other countries for humanitarian services,” Heather Marchin, one of the authors, explained. "We realised that we needed to work out who we will support and why, and how we will respond to such requests. The Framework will now help guide those decisions as we work together to support waiting recipients overseas. Importantly, it will also ensure that those waiting for transplants within our own countries remain our first priority."

Australia and New Zealand have highly professional and regulated eye donation services designed to take account of the needs of donors, their families, and the recipients. Tissue is cared for in a specialised manner to ensure safety. The new Bioethics Framework will ensure these services remain at a high standard and are not compromised under pressure from growing international demand.

"We are launching this Framework at a time when there is growing global awareness of the importance of ethics in relation to human transplantation. In working up our Framework, we were inspired by our peers in the organ donation sector who have developed the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism, and we have had encouragement for this work from the World Health Organization," she continued.

The Framework, which was jointly drafted by Heather and bioethicist Dr Dominique Martin from the University of Melbourne's Centre for Health Equity, has now been ratified by eye banks in Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Auckland.

It sets out strategies for caring for donors and their wishes; ethical collaborations and interactions with the local, national and global eye care communities and governments; the need for policy and training; how, where and why tissue will be shared; and how we can support our global colleagues through humanitarian services while ensuring Australia and New Zealand recipients remain a priority. 

 
RANZCO: Corneal Eye Procedure Not Dangerous PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Eye SurgeryTelevision program "A Current Affair" ran a story on Friday 13 March about a group of patients who received the wrong eye drops after cross-linking was performed in Queensland in 2012. The Health Quality and Complaints Commission of Queensland found that the ophthalmologist in question was not responsible for the tragedy. The matter is subject to ongoing legal proceedings. RANZCO (the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists) has great sympathy for the patients who suffered severe corneal complications as a result. However, according to RANZCO, the story confused laser eye surgery with keratoconus cross-linking, a specific procedure on the corneal part of the eye. RANZCO also advises keratoconus cross-linking is vital and necessary to halt the advance of the eye disease keratoconus.

RANZCO's concern is that other patients booked for routine cross-linking around Australia may fear that the procedure itself is dangerous and cancel vision-saving surgery. These procedures are carried out by ophthalmologists or eye surgeons who have undergone the highest level of medical training and strict accreditation. Cross-linking is effective in reducing the risk of progressive loss of vision and the need for a corneal transplant by strengthening the cornea, enabling it to hold its proper shape and to protect vision.

Additionally, laser eye surgery as referred to in the "A Current Affair" story is also a common and well-established procedure. RANZCO stresses caution in referring to all eye surgeries as "laser surgeries", when in fact there are different types of eye surgeries for both common and rare eye diseases.

All eye procedures undertaken by an ophthalmologist carry some risk – however minor – and we would encourage any patient who has concerns to speak with their eye specialist.

"Post-operative side-effects to cross-linking – such as light sensitivity and temporary minor blurring – are common for many types of eye surgeries. The vast majority of people suffering from keratoconus and other corneal conditions are suitable for cross-linking, but suitability is always properly assessed by an ophthalmologist, taking into account the patient's past and present eye health," said Dr Grant Snibson, a corneal specialist who has performed cross-linking.

 
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